After months of delays, the Orange Store opens in Cape Town this week, writes DUNCAN ALFREDS.
The global mobile operation, intent on disrupting the South African mobile distribution ecosystem, has opened its first physical store in the country as a way of supporting its online platform, which is known for selling smartphones at low cost.
“Orange’s strategy is to be close to its customer base. We believe cross selling between the physical and online stores is a way to offer better services to all our customers,” Sèbastien Crozier, CEO of Orange Horizons, told Fin24.
The store was initially slated for opening in January this year, but squabbles between the franchisee and Orange resulted in delays.
In the meantime, Orange continued to sell smartphones and other gadgets on its online platform, though Crozier conceded that a physical store presence is a necessity in SA.
“The Orange Online Store is a great success in South Africa, and we understand the need of our customers to be able to go into a physical store to see, touch and test the products. It is also an opportunity for us to interact with our customers and offer them advice, as well as to showcase new products as connected devices.”
In addition to selling gadgets, Orange will also use the physical store to leverage international tourism and its large customer base.
“The store will also offer South African travellers the opportunity to purchase SIM cards for travel throughout Europe, as well as the opportunity to order any product that is not immediately available to be delivered to their home,” said Crozier.
But the physical store will also better help Orange understand which products to offer in SA as the company moves toward an internet service provider role.
“We started with a digital presence, and believe that a physical store is the next step in better understanding the ZA market and provide new services before becoming an ISP, at the end of the year,” Crozier said.
While Orange has a significant mobile operator presence in Africa and Europe, the company doesn’t have mobile network operations in SA.
However, it uses its international inventory to offer often dual SIM smartphones locally and devices at lower prices than established distribution channels.
Crozier said that following the Cape Town store, Orange would investigate the viability of physical stores in other areas.
“Our plan is to first target the areas where we have a large existing customer base from the Online Store. We plan to open stores in all the major cities. Johannesburg is one of them and we could open several stores there, depending on the demand. We also see huge opportunities in the rural areas, and are looking at the best ways of targeting